25 June 2019

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Alan Barnes

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: June 2019

Reviewed by: Nick Mellish for Doctor Who Online


"A space-time summons brings the TARDIS to the strangest place Mags has yet visited. A haven for the freakiest freaks and the weirdest weirdoes: Camden Lock, London, in the early 1990s.

But there's a reason why former TARDIS traveller Ace has brought the old gang back together. She’s on a mission to rescue an alien being, held prisoner in a massive mansion…

A mission that can’t possibly go wrong. Can it? "

An Alien Werewolf in London is the final story in this trilogy of stories featuring Mags, this time with Ace along for the ride. Believe it or not, that’s about all I can say without straying further into spoiler territory, so brief is the CD blurb. Keeping that in mind, what follows will contain spoilers so you may want to just skip ahead to the score without context or read this after listening.

With that in mind, let’s carry on. Werewolf is a slightly weird release; on the one hand, there is much to praise: it’s a decent enough plot, using time travel and double-bluffing rather well and the title is an amusing enough pun. In short, it’s an entertaining enough play that doesn’t feel like it has ever outstayed its welcome, despite episodes running over the 30 minute marker. The continual pop cultural references don’t really work, mind, not feeling true to the era, and the music utterly swamps everything, relying on only a couple of cues over and over again, an issue I had last month, too. The direction feels a bit off, too, with notable pauses between lines at times that kills the flow dead.

Enemy-wise, we’re back in one of Doctor Who’s favourite territories: vampires. Okay, so they don’t like to be called vampires, but we all know what they are. I suppose there was a certain inevitability about vampires and werewolves coming together in the end, but it’s done fairly well here.

Sadly though, the issue that has plagued this trilogy since the start is here again: just who is Mags beyond “I’m a werewolf and I’d rather not be”? I still don’t know, three plays and a television story in.

I mentioned in previous reviews for this trilogy that Mags was essentially a well-acted plot point back in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, and though the plot point has changed now (from “I am trapped and secretly a werewolf” to “I am a werewolf and I feel trapped”), I do not know her character. She wants a cure and feels like an outsider because she changes but, again, that’s not really a great deal to go on. That’s the sketchy, one-sentence pitch to potential writers.

Alan Barnes, the play’s writer and the outgoing script editor for most of the main range, says that bringing back Mags was always on his “to do” list, but I’m still unsure just why he was. On paper, a werewolf looking for a cure could be fun, but it strikes me as fuel for a spin-off comic book series instead of a great idea for an ongoing companion.

Nothing in this trilogy had persuaded me otherwise. Jessica Martin puts in her best performance as Mags by a mile here in this play, and we end not with a conclusion but a potential continuation of the storyline, only I’m not sure ‘continuation’ is the right word. We haven’t moved anywhere. We end up how we started, only with Mags in the TARDIS instead of on a planet.

In the end, I just feel torn. The opening and closing plays of the trilogy are enjoyable enough; enough to ensure this one gets a healthy score out of 10, despite my niggles with the direction and music, but that one word keeps coming back to me: why?

Why bring Mags back? Just who is this trilogy for: what is the audience Big Finish are aiming for? I’m utterly baffled.

Mags, we hardly knew thee. I’m not sure any of the writers really did, either.


+ An Alien Werewolf In London is OUT NOW, priced £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download).

+ ORDER this title on Amazon!


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